COURAGE & Co.
This is a history of the Courage & Co. brewery started by John Courage in 1787,
with the COURAGE family history and family trees, together with the histories of other
breweries acquired as recorded in John Pudney's 'A Draught of Contentment'
Unfortunately John Courage died suddenly in 1793 at
the age 36. His wife Harriot took over the running of
the business, but died herself just a few years later
in 1797. Since the children were still very young
Mr. John Donaldson, the managing clerk, took over
the running of the business, (see Chapter 2 of Mr G N
Hardinge's book). In 1797 the business was re-named
Courage & Donaldson. By 1888, it had been
registered simply as 'Courage'. In 1955, the company
merged with Barclay, Perkins & Co Ltd (who were
located at the nearby Anchor Brewery) to become
Courage, Barclay & Co Ltd. Only five years later,
another merger with the Reading based Simonds'
Brewery led to the name changing to Courage,
Barclay, Simonds & Co Ltd.
This was simplified to Courage Ltd in October 1970
and the company was taken over by the Imperial
Tobacco Group Ltd two years later.
Their vast Worton Grange (now Berkshire) brewery was opened on the
Reading/Shinfield border in 1978. The Anchor Brewery closed in 1981 and all brewing
was transferred there. Imperial Tobacco was acquired by the Hanson Trust in 1986
and they sold off Courage to Elders IXL who were renamed the Foster's Brewing
Group in 1990.
The following year, the Courage section of Foster's merged with all the breweries of
Grand Metropolitan. Its public houses were owned by a joint-company called
Inntrepreneur Estates. Scottish & Newcastle purchased Courage from Foster's in
1995, creating Scottish Courage as its brewing arm.
As of January 2007 the rights for the production, marketing and sales of the
Courage brands have been sold to Wells & Young’s Brewing Company. This will be
managed by a joint venture called Courage Brands Ltd.
For published histories of COURAGE & CO see the following -
COURAGE'S 1787 to 1932 - The Development and Growth of Courage's Brewery
by Mr G N ('Toby') Hardinge, Managing Director, 1897 to 1927, and
A DRAUGHT OF CONTENTMENT - The Story of the Courage Group, by John
Pudney, social and industrial historian, published 1971
The assistance of Mr Steven Potter of Southwark Library, in researching archive
history of Horselydown and Southwark, and the Courage brewery, is also very much
As some of the information in this history of Courage & Co. has been obtained from
sources which due to the passage of time cannot be verified, there may be
discrepancies or errors. Your assistance in the correction of any such errors, or with
the completion of any missing information, would be most gratefully received using
the Contact us page.
Courage & Co, John Courage, Hardinge, Pudney, Courage, London brewery, London
brewers, Courage Ltd., Courage & Donaldson, William Courage, Courage brewery,
Courage beer, Courage Best, Courage best, Courage and Co. Ltd., Courage Ltd.,
brewery, Take Courage
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1787: John Courage, a shipping agent, purchased a brewery at Horsleydown,
1800: firm carried on after John Courage died by his senior clerk, John Donaldson,
and is known as Courage and Donaldson
1851: Donaldson family withdrew from management and John Courage junior and
his sons Robert and John take over the business
1887: output exceeded 300,000 barrels a year
1888: Courage and Company registered as a limited liability company
1903-1943: followed policy of expansion, acquiring 7 breweries and their
associated licensed public houses
1955: merged with another Southwark brewery, Barclay, Perkins and Company Ltd,
forming a new company, Courage and Barclay Ltd
1960: acquired H & G Simonds Ltd of Reading, Berkshire and changed name to
Courage, Barclay and Simonds Ltd
1956-1970: continued to expand, acquiring 14 other breweries
1970: changed name to Courage Ltd
1972: acquired by Imperial Tobacco Group Ltd for Ł320 million, changed name to
Imperial Brewing and Leisure Ltd.
1986: Imperial Group acquired by Hanson Trust plc, which sold Courage Ltd as a
separate concern to Elders IXL, the Australian conglomerate